At last! A state-wide coalition of organizations in Kansas has risen with a comprehensive platform aimed at moving the state legislature in a progressive direction.

The Kansas People’s Agenda was developed at two meetings in October and November of last year. Representatives from 46 organizations from across the state – Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan, Salina and Wichita – met in Salina to find consensus on fifteen common ground areas:

  • Economic Justice
  • Equitable Public Education
  • Healthcare Access
  • Racial and Indigenous Justice
  • Anti-Corruption Policy
  • Environmental Stewardship & Sustainable Agriculture
  • Voting Rights
  • Children Protections
  • Gender Equality
  • Religious Freedom
  • LGBT Rights
  • Responsible Gun Policy
  • Immigrant Rights
  • Criminal Justice Reform

A complete listing of the position statements for each Common Ground Issue is available on the MAPJ website.

Representatives from all 46 organizations committed themselves to sending their members to a rally inside the State Capitol building planned for January 11th. And we pulled it off! Around 500 participants combined to form the largest and noisiest crowds to fill the rotunda within eyesight of the famous John Brown mural. An estimated 60 came from Manhattan, 27 by a chartered bus sponsored by MAPJ. Participants heard 90 minutes of speeches from representatives of the 15 common ground areas. The complete recording of the speeches is also available on the MAPJ website. Following lunch, participants then fanned out to talk with their state representatives.

Approximately 20 from the Manhattan group met with Sen. Tom Hawk and Representatives Sidney Carlin and Tom Phillips. All three were surprised by our numbers and pleased to have an opportunity to hear our concerns. We presented the People’s Agenda to them and discussed several of the issues with them at some length.

Since then a group of 36 Manhattan residents have formed to call Rep. Dan Hawkins, Chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, to encourage the approval of a bill to expand KanCare/ Medicaid coverage for an estimated 56,000 Kansans, nearly all non-elderly adults with incomes at or below 138% of poverty. That many were left out when Gov. Brownback refused to participate in the Affordable Care Act. Brownback has now said he will let the legislature to decide on whether to expand KanCare coverage.

To stay up to date on the progress of this legislation, or offer help, check out our Facebook page or send a message to Chair@mapj.org.

Originally published in the MAPJ NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY/MARCH 2017 p. 6.

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